With the family fed, I’ve made a cup of coffee and gone out to put Gabby up for the night. It’s beautiful outside; this has been our warmest day of the year, so far, and the air smells sweet with the first blooms of spring. I glance around at the work I’ve done and light up the first cigarette I’ve had all day. I inhale deeply, studying the trench I’ve been digging. I’ll need to do more work on it tomorrow. It needs to be a garden bed of 36 inches wide by 75 inches long, the size of one half of an old, glass French door. I glance around the rest of the yard and feel pretty good at what I’ve been able to get done. The last winter storm left debris strewn about from downed trees and limbs. One of these branches has crashed through the fencing to the chicken’s run and needs to be repaired soon, before the raccoons realize it’s been compromised.
I walk back inside to put what remains of the beef stew into the fridge and remind the two older kids of their chores. My youngest daughter is on the couch, complaining that she doesn’t like meat and potatoes, so she’s ‘starving’. She also wants everyone in the house to know that her face itches from the viral skin rash that appeared suddenly, yesterday morning, before school. It’s not long before the teens are arguing about the chores and the youngest is shrieking in an effort to be heard over her protesting siblings. I make myself an other cup of coffee and slip out the door, to remain outside where it is quiet, aside form the croaking frogs. “Their father can deal with them”, I thought, “I’m off duty.”
Before going outside, I grab the bowl of vegetable scraps that have been collecting over the course of the day. Buttons, our giant rabbit who lives with our community of chickens, loves his nightly treat. If I didn’t have him, I would be putting some of these things in the freezer, for soup stock, while the rest would end up in the compost pile. Regardless, Buttons is waiting at the gate when I arrive, anticipating what might be in the bowl. I damn near tripped over him on my way in, cursing the muddy ground and the rain that’s made it so. I can hardly wait for things to dry out a bit.
After closing the gate, I sit down next to our large oak tree, coffee in hand, and begin to think. There are huge financial issues that must be dealt with; living in todays world takes money that just doesn’t seem to be coming in quickly enough. I’m looking for alternative ways to get things done and cut back spending. Food isn’t much of an issue because I can grow everything I need, except for animal products like milk and butter. Cash flow goes to bills, almost exclusively so, this leaves me with finding alternatives for other things we rarely think about, in order to spend as little as possible. Of course, I may be making a mountain out of a molehill but there is no reason why I can’t find these solutions anyhow. I figure most of what I’ll need is to acquire skills and raw materials in order to make things on my own. Also, assessing our waste so we can be more conservative in our consumption, is something that needs to be done as well.
At any rate, I have a beef stew to share with you. I do not have pictures of it just yet; I completely forgot to take any. Also, the kids dished themselves up before I could measure the amount of stew it actually makes – I’ve never had to measure mine before – so, that will be a tweak for an other date but, for now, here’s my stew:
Easy Beef Stew - Slow Cooker
- 3 lb. stew meat, cut to1/2 inch pieces
- 5 cups (roughly) russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 5-6 carrots, sliced fairly thick
- 1 (15 oz.) can diced, stewed tomatoes
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 2 tsp. dried thyme
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
- 1/2 cup bone or vegetable broth (or more water)
Mix the flour, thyme, salt and pepper into the water and broth, using a fork, until all the clumps are dissolved. Throw the beef, tomatoes, and vegetables in a very large crockpot and pour the seasoned flour and water mixture over top then, give the whole thing a good stir. Set the crockpot to slowly cook for 6 hours. Allow to cool a bit before you serve, it’s very hot.
Recipe By: Michelle at Gabby’s House
Author’s Note: This recipe will be updated, and pictures will be posted, after I have gotten a bit more settled in